How to Avoid the 5 Biggest Pitfalls of eCommerce fulfillment.
The “here today and gone tomorrow” saying holds true more so today than ever before. This changing world will devour both BIG and small companies at an alarming rate if simple precautions are not implemented early on in the process. It’s the simple fundamentals of business are often overlooked or forgotten and it is these fundamentals that will lead to success or failure.
To be honest many clients (experienced or brand new) often approach us with visions of grandeur and more times than not we cannot stress enough that we need to avoid speculation. The world we live in is both constantly evolving and changing. That is why the number one thing we tell our clients is to plan ahead. To avoid the pitfalls and mistakes that others have made sometimes you just need to be open to suggestion and new ideas.
The logistics side of ecommerce can offer even the most savvy and experienced sellers a maze of obstacles with many different terms that can be confusing. It’s the main reason why so many sellers stay put in their current situation and why so many allow themselves to be abused by the centers they’re currently using. Yes it’s true that no two fulfillment centers are exactly alike but the main focus of every fulfillment center should be based on customer satisfaction and client relationships. I myself take pride in knowing that my company will never nickel and dime a person on fees and offers complete transparency throughout the process.
It sounds silly to say that a fulfillment center cannot do the main task it’s hired for correctly. I mean the whole idea of hiring a fulfillment center is to alleviate the stress of worrying about shipments actually being shipped both correctly and within a reasonable amount of time. Some centers offer a same day guarantee which is a great sign that this company is doing it right
I’ve heard this from so many clients that I’ve lost count over the years. Every reputable fulfillment center will approach their pricing structure differently. After all it is a business and they need to ensure profitability for themselves as well as making sure that the client is satisfied with the services to be provided. If they aren’t willing to put it in writing I suggest looking elsewhere for fulfillment for your Estore-front. The prices can change on occasion if the scope of work changes. For example if you want something in a different size box that costs more money then yes expect to pay more but if the invoice changes on a monthly basis and you have not approved any drastic changes….RUN
INCONSISTENT CUSTOMER SERVICE:
Have you ever tried calling a number only to have the phone ring unanswered? It’s frustrating, Right? This should never happen in the business world. I personally hold this very true to my heart. I feel that if I’m not important enough to get a response when the phone rings and rings without someone picking up, then why do I need to give you my hard earned money monthly. I might be calling for something of great importance, or I might be calling to ask a simple question but regardless I deserve to be answered. Personally I like the “personal touch” where I have a dedicated account representative that knows both myself and my business. Many fulfillment centers treat you as an account number but the ones that go the extra mile are the ones that actually care about your business.
It’s like looking at your cell phone bill and wondering what exactly a penny here and a penny there actually are. Again fulfillment centers are businesses and they have to make money but each contract signed should have a line breakdown of all the fees you will be paying. The standard fees are: storage, pick pack, material and an hourly rate for loading or unloading of arriving shipments and postage. Some companies will pay the upfront postage costs and add an additional fee while others will have you open a postage account and charge you what it actually costs to ship the item. Different centers might combine a pick and pack fee while others will separate them into a separate line item for a pick fee, a pack fee, a per item fee etc. This shouldn’t be cause for alarm, but when your bill one month isn’t the same as the previous month and your volume of sales has dropped slightly that’s when its time to pay attention to that red flag waving high above your head.
It’s as simple as it sounds. Upfront and honest business practices make the world go round. In an ever changing environment the one thing that shouldn’t change is honesty, trust and loyalty, it’s the basic fundamentals of any business relationship. If your fulfillment company requires you call a week in advance to tour the facility or to stop by and say hello that is something you should be extremely cautious about. Liability reasons sometimes require a client to give advance notice of a day or two just because something might be happening that involves a safety risk. If they aren’t being upfront about when you can stop in then something is way off or wrong. I’ve had clients fly in from different states over the years just to touch base and grab a bite to eat. We have an open door policy with every single client we have, the only thing we ask is a phone call only to ensure we are on site or not in a meeting.
I recall a client once telling me that after the holiday season his volume dropped significantly but his invoice from the fulfillment company actually went up drastically. It took him nearly two weeks before he was allowed into the facility to meet with someone and actually see his product on the shelves. He was completely blown away with how disorganized and messy the entire building was and was shocked to see a single box on a pallet that he was being charged a $15 storage fee for. Needless to say he demanded his account be closed and his product sent elsewhere. It was only at this point that the account manager had the time to see him and promise him the moon and the stars. Thankfully this person found our company and could not be happier in that decision and neither are we.
What are some of the stories or questions you have? I’d love to hear them and to help clarify anything on your mind. Go ahead and share them in the comments below!